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see me at her chamber-window; hear me call Margaret, Hero; hear Margaret term me Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night before the intended wedding.] The business stands thus; Claudio, a favourite of the Arragon prince, is by his intercessions with her father, to be married to fair Hero; Don John, natural brother of the prince, and a hater of Claudio, is in his spleen zealous to disappoint the match. Borachio, a rascally dependant on Don John, offers his assistance, and engages to break off the marriage by this stratagem."Tell the prince and Claudio (says he) that Hero is "in love with me; they won't believe it; offer them proofs, as "that they shall see me converse with her in her chamber-window. "I am in the good graces of her waiting-woman, Margaret; and "I'll prevail with Margaret, at a dead hour of night to personate "her mistress Hero; do you then bring the prince and Claudio to " overhear our discourse; and they shall have the torment to hear "me address Margaret by the name of Hero; and her to say sweet "things to me by the name of Claudio."-This is the substance of Borachio's device to make Hero suspected of disloyalty, and to break off her match with Claudio. THEOBALD.
-intend -] i. e. Pretend.
ACT II. SCENE III.
Line 477. -and her hair shall be of what colour it please God.] Satirically alluding to the fashion of dying the hair, in Shakspeare's time.
Line 544. Stalk on, stalk on; the fowl sits.] Alluding to the stalking horse, well known to the fowler in the fenn countries, who conceals himself under it, till he makes sure of his shot.
Line 553. but that she loves him with an enraged affection, it is past the infinite of thought.] The meaning is, it is not in the power of thought to conceive, with what an enraged affection she loves him.
The plain sense is, I know not what to think otherwise, but that she loves him with an enraged affection: It (this affection) is past the infinite of thought. Here are no abrupt stops, or imperfect sentences. Infinite may well enough stand; it is used by more. careful writers for indefinite: and the speaker only means, that
thought, though in itself unbounded, cannot reach or estimate the →degree of her passion. JOHNSON.
Line 591. O, she tore the letter into a thousand half-pence ;] i. e. Into a thousand pieces of the same bigness. This is farther explained by a passage in As you like it:
-There were none principal; they were all like one another as half-pence are. THEOBALD.
-] To daff, is to put aside.
contemptible spirit.] That is, a temper inclined to scorn and contempt. It has been before remarked, that our author uses his verbal adjectives with great license.
JOHNSON. was sadly borne.] i. e. Was seriously carried on. STEEVENS.
ACT III. SCENE I.
Line 3. Proposing-] i. e. Conversing.
46. To wish him- -] i. e. Recommend to him.
68. If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antick, Made a foul blot:] The antick was a buffoon character in the old English farces, with a blacked face, and a patchwork habit. What I would observe from hence is, that the name of antick or antique, given to this character, shews that the people had some traditional ideas of its being borrowed from the ancient mimes, who are thus described by Apuleius, Mimi centunculo, fuligine faciem obducti. WARBURTON.
Dr. Warburton's interpretation here is imperfect, the ancient harlequins, anticks, or vices, in the low comedies, had not their faces blackened. Shakspeare means only, one with a complexion or beard, more black than usual.
Line 70. If low, an agate very vilely cut:] Meaning the comparison between a little man and an agate stone; Falstaff says.to his page:
"I was never so man'd with an agate till now." Line 102. -argument,] This word seems here to signify discourse, or, the powers of reasoning. JOHNSON.
Line 110. She's lim'd] She is ensnared and entangled as a sparrow with birdlime. JOHNSON.
Line 114. What fire is in mine ears?] Alluding to a proverbial saying of the common people, that their ears burn, when others are talking of them. WARBURTON.
Line 119. Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand;] This `image is taken from falconry. She had been charged with being as wild as haggards of the rock; she therefore says, that wild as her heart is, she will tame it to the hand. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE II.
Line 134. the little hangman dare not shoot at him:] This character of Cupid came from the Arcadia of Sir Philip Sidney: "Millions of yeares this old drivell Cupid lives;
"While still more wretch, more wicked he doth prove;
"Till now at length that Jove him office gives,
"6 (At Juno's suite who much did Argus love)
"In this our world a hangman for to be
Line 154. There is no appearance of fancy, &c.] Here is a play upon the word fancy, which Shakspeare uses for love as well as for humour, caprice, or affectation. JOHNSON.
slops ;] Slops are loose breeches or trowsers. 190. She shall be buried with her face upwards.] The meaning seems to be, that she who acted upon principles contrary to others, should be buried with the same contrariety, JOHNSON. The passage perhaps means only-She shall be buried in her
So in The Winter's Tale: "Flo. What? like a corse?
"Per. No, like a bank for love to lie and play on;
-not to be buried,
"Not like a corse :-or if,-
ACT III. SCENE III.
-bills be not stolen:] A bill is still carried by the watchmen at Litchfield. It was the old weapon of the
English infantry, which, says Temple, gave the most ghastly and deplorable wounds. It may be called securis falcata.
Line 322. If you hear a child cry, &c.] It is not impossible but that part of this scene was intended as a burlesque on The Statutes of the Streets, imprinted by Wolfe, in 1595.
Ben Jonson, however, appears to have ridiculed this scene in the Induction to his Bartholomew Fair.
"And then a substantial watch to have stole in upon 'em, and "taken them away with mistaking words, as the fashion is in the "stage-practice." STEEVENS. Line 370. any villainy should be so rich:] The sense absolutely requires us to read, villain. WARBURTON
Line 374. ways of the world.
thou art unconfirmed:] i. e. Unpractised in the WARBURTON. -reechy painting;] i. e. A painting tarnished by
Line 392.. smoke.
Line 393. -sometime, like the shaven Hercules, &c.] I believe that Shakspeare, by the shaven Hercules meant only Hercules, when shaved to make him look like a woman, while he remained ́ in the service of Omphale, his Lydian mistress. Had the shaven Hercules been meant to represent Samson, (according to Warburton) he would probably have been equipped with a jaw-bone instead of a club. STEEVENS.
Line 394. ŝmirch'd—] i. e. Clouded, soiled.
Line 446.rabato] A collarband; a ruff.
"Broke broad jests upon her narrow heel, Pok'd her rabatos, and survay'd her steel." This passage will likewise serve for an additional explanation of the poking-sticks of steel, mentioned in The Winter's Tale.
STEEVENS. Line 454. --a thought browner;] A shade or degree browner. 466. 'Twill be heavier soon, by the weight of a man.] Vide Troilus and Cressida:'
-the heavier for a whore."
Light o' love;] A tune so called, which has
been ready mentioned by our author.
Line 488. no barns.] A quibble between barns, repositories of corn, and bairns, the old word for children. JOHNSON. Line 495. For the letter that begins them all, H.] This is a poor jest, somewhat obscured, and not worth the trouble of elucidation. STEEVENS.
Line 496. turn'd Turk,] i. e. Taken captive by love, and WARBURTON. turned a renegado to his religion.
This interpretation is somewhat far-fetched, yet, perhaps, it is JOHNSON. right.
Line 517. -some moral- -] That is, some secret meaning, like the moral of a fable. Line 528. —he eats his meat without grudging:] I do not see how this is a proof of Benedick's change of mind. It would afford more proof of amorousness to say, he eats not his meat without grudging; but it is impossible to fix the meaning of proverbial expressions: perhaps, to eat meat without grudging, was the same as, to do as others do, and the meaning is, he is content to live by eating like other mortals, and will be content, notwithstanding his boasts, JOHNSON. like other mortals, to have a wife.
ACT III. SCENE V.
Line 551. I am as honest as any man living, that is an old man, and no honester than 1.] There is much humour, and extreme good sense under the covering of this blundering expression. It is a sly insinuation that length of years, and the being much hacknied in the ways of men, as Shakspeare expresses it, take off the gloss of virtue, and bring much defilement on the manners. For, as a great wit says, Youth is the season of virtue: corruptions grow with years, and I believe the oldest rogue in England is the greatest.
Line 573. - -it is a world to see!] i. e. It is curious or won
derful to observe.
Line 575. -an two men ride, &c.] This is not out of place, or without meaning. Dogberry, in his vanity of superior parts, apologizing for his neighbour, observes, that of two men on an horse, one must ride behind. The first place of rank or understand